100 years a film by John Malkovich locked in a safe for 100 years

12 August 2022

Written by American actor John Malkovich, who also stars with Marko Zaror and Shuya Chang, and directed by Robert Rodriguez, 100 Years, teaser/trailer, is a film made in 2015 that will not be released — all things remaining equal — until 2115.

The only physical copy of the movie was placed in a time controlled safe at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, which apparently will not open until Monday 18 November 2115. While details of the plot remain sketchy, it seems a certain brand of cognac features prominently.

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Jacoténe wins Triple J Unearthed High with I Need Therapy

12 August 2022

Talking of Triple J… Emerging Melbourne based Australian soul and pop singer Jacoténe has won the radio station’s Unearthed High for 2022, with her demo single I Need Therapy. Those vocals though…

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Triple J losing listeners to commercial radio, go figure

12 August 2022

Government funded, alternative music Australian radio station, Triple J has been losing listeners for sometime among their target demographic of 18 to 24 year olds, but recent surveys show the decline has picked up pace, as Tim Burrows at Unmade writes:

However, the fall for average listening to Triple J is much worse. Now, a much bigger proportion of that young listening audience is choosing commercial radio. In 2014, there were an average of 22,000 members of Triple J’s target audience listening at any given time. In the most recent survey in 2022, that had fallen to 10,000 – a fall of 55%.

What puzzles me is the migration to commercial radio though. Listeners haven’t gone to TikTok to discover and listen to music — at least not all of them — instead they’re tuning into commercial radio stations. Surely the ads that choke commercial radio broadcasts don’t have some sort of hitherto unrealised appeal to Generation Z?

I’m somewhat outside Triple J’s target audience, but one reason I still tune in (stream in) is precisely because there are no cheesy commercial jingles. There are ads of sorts on Triple J, but usually for other shows, and music related events and happenings. Certainly not the kind you encounter on commercial channels though.

And surely 18 to 24 year olds aren’t being turned off by Triple J’s focus on new Australian music? Interestingly, radio listenership in general is down some seventeen percent among those aged 18 to 24, so while the jays are losing audience share, they’re not the only ones.

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The history of the dumpling by Miranda Brown

11 August 2022

An animated history of the dumpling by Miranda Brown, professor of Chinese Studies, at the University of Michigan. While dumplings feature prominently in Chinese cuisine, they may have originated elsewhere, possibly closer to central Asia.

As archaeologists pored over ancient tombs in western China, they discovered some surprisingly well-preserved and familiar relics. Though hardened over 1,000 years, there sat little crescent-shaped dumplings. So who invented these plump pockets of perfection, and how did they spread across the world?

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Fiction and non-fiction reading suggestions August 2022

11 August 2022

Out of Breath by Anna Snoekstra, The House of Fortune by Jessie Burton, and Random Acts of Unkindness by Anna Mandoki, are among reading suggestions for August, put together by Lucy Sussex and Steven Carroll.

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Before cars arrived there was no such thing as jay walking

11 August 2022

Streets and roadways used to be the purview of people on foot, not motor vehicles, writes Clive Thompson. Jaywalking — whereby a pedestrian can be penalised for not crossing a street at the correct location — he tells us, is a misdemeanour created by the car industry.

If you travelled in time back to a big American city in, say, 1905 — just before the boom in car ownership — you’d see roadways utterly teeming with people. Vendors would stand in the street, selling food or goods. Couples would stroll along, and everywhere would be groups of children racing around, playing games. If a pedestrian were heading to a destination across town, they’d cross a street wherever and whenever they felt like it.

Maybe the solution, and to return roads to people on foot, is to lay down light rail or tram tracks on the streets. I was in the centre of Sydney recently where a number of once busy traffic thoroughfares are now light rail routes through the city.

Aside from trams trundling along the way every few minutes, pedestrians largely have free rein. The light rail lines have quite transformed parts of Sydney’s CBD in the last few years.

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GeoCities, in their gloriously bold colours by Cameron Askin

9 August 2022

For those who came in late, GeoCities was a little like Instagram. Sort. Of. Members signed up for an account, chose a “city” to inhabit based on the content they wished to post, and went about designing a personal website the best way they knew how.

Usually gratuitous quantities gif animations, and sometimes eye-watering combinations of bright (read: garish) colours adorned these websites. For good measure, music, in the form of tinny sounding MIDI files was also the go. And from 1994, until GeoCities was shuttered in 2009, we used to love to hate the GeoCities webpages. They were after all the antithesis of “real” website design, but now they’re gone, we miss them. Sort of maybe.

But Melbourne based web designer Cameron Askin has bought the essence of the old personal websites back to life at Cameron’s World. GeoCities websites may not have always been easy on the eye, but they sure as hell could not be called bland, something you can’t always say of today’s web.

In an age where we interact primarily with branded and marketed web content, Cameron’s World is a tribute to the lost days of unrefined self-expression on the Internet. This project recalls the visual aesthetics from an era when it was expected that personal spaces would always be under construction.

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2022 Australia Council Awards recipients announcement

9 August 2022

The Australia Council Awards recognise artists, writers, musicians, and other creatives whose work contributes to Australia’s diverse cultural life. Among recipients of the 2022 awards announced yesterday, was Robert Dessaix, a Tasmanian based writer of literary non-fiction, who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement in Literature award.

Literary non-fiction? I had to look that up. A few of the books I read are classified as literary fiction, but this is the first time I’ve encountered the non-fiction genus.

Literary nonfiction is an elusive creature in literature known by many names. You might hear literary nonfiction called narrative nonfiction or creative nonfiction. Regardless of the name, literary nonfiction tells a story, typically in a creative way. Therefore, creative nonfiction writers use literary devices and writing conventions seen in poetry and fiction, but these accounts are based on actual facts or observations.

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Everything Feels Like the End of the World by Else Fitzgerald

8 August 2022
Everything Feels Like the End of the World, by Else Fitzgerald, book cover

Everything Feels Like the End of the World (published by Allen & Unwin, 2 August 2022), by Mornington Peninsula based Australian writer Else Fitzgerald, seems like a book title for the times some days.

Winner of the 2019 Richell Prize for emerging writers, Fitzgerald written a collection of short stories, exploring a number of chilling dystopian futures for Australia, set both in the near and distant future:

Each story is anchored, at its heart, in what it means to be human: grief, loss, pain and love. A young woman is faced with a difficult choice about her pregnancy in a community ravaged by doubt. An engineer working on a solar shield protecting the Earth shares memories of their lover with an AI companion. Two archivists must decide what is worth saving when the world is flooded by rising sea levels. In a heavily policed state that preferences the human and punishes the different, a mother gives herself up to save her transgenic child.

Nanci Nott, writing for Artshub, describes Everything Feels Like the End of the World as an engaging collection of speculative short fictions:

Each tale is intensely personal, vibrant with specificity, and written with precision. Characters don’t just exist within their settings; entire worlds inhabit these characters. A master of minutiae and memory, Fitzgerald creates an intricate universe of befores-and-afters, sacrifices and consequences, mundane joys and darkest days.

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Publisher to profit from sale of used textbooks sold as NFTs

8 August 2022

Publishers may soon see more return from the sale of second-hand electronic books, if a proposal by British educational and textbook publisher Pearson to sell their titles as NTFs is successful.

Educational books are often sold more than once, since students sell study resources they no longer require. Publishers have not previously been able to make any money from secondhand sales, but the rise of digital textbooks has created an opportunity for companies to benefit.

NFTs confer ownership of a unique digital item by recording it on a decentralised digital register known as a blockchain. Typically these items are images or videos, but the technology allows for just about anything to be sold and owned in this way.

At the moment few digital books are sold as NFTs, with the exception of some self-published novels, though this may change in the wake of Pearson’s proposal.

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The people we spend time with changes throughout our life

8 August 2022

A breakdown of the time we spend with the people in our lives: parents, siblings, friends, partners, colleagues… and ourselves, put together by Our World in Data. The findings are based on surveys conducted between 2009 and 2019 in the United States.

  • As you age you tend to spend more time alone. This does not necessarily mean you’d be lonely though
  • Once you leave home the time spent with parents and siblings plummets
  • Once settled in a career, time spent with friends also decreases
  • In fact the only person you spent more time with, excluding children if you have any, is your partner

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Vale Judith Durham, lead singer of the Seekers

8 August 2022

Judith Durham, lead singer of Australian folk/pop band the Seekers died last Friday, 5 August 2022, aged 79. Formed in 1962, the Seekers, along with Durham, who joined the group a year later, were among the first Australian music acts to achieve international success.

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Michael Spitzer: 40000 years of music history in 8 minutes

6 August 2022

Because music is so accessible today we’re drowning in it, says Michael Spitzer, professor of music at the University of Liverpool. That’s a far cry from a few hundred years ago when people attended, at best, two recitals in their lifetime, and music went unrecorded until 1877 when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph.

But the arrival of the phonograph is only a small part in the story of music. Changes in the way music was performed, and the instruments created to make that possible, evolved as we moved away from our hunter-gatherer roots, and eventually began living in towns. Spitzer’s recounting of forty-thousand years of musical development, in the space of eight minutes, is fascinating.

If you’re looking at the broad picture of the evolution of sapiens, then the epochs are hunter-gatherer, farming community, and then the founding of cities and city-states. Each of these epochs is associated with mentalities. So, hunter-gatherers tended to be nomadic. And if you’re essentially journeying through a landscape, what you don’t do is carry heavy instruments. Music has to be portable, ideally, just a voice or if not, a very light flute or a small percussive instrument. And if you look at the music that is played by the Cameroon Pygmies, every time they play a piece, it sounds different. It’s very much music of the moment.

Now, what changes when you invent farming? You settle down. And your whole mindset becomes fixed on the circle of the seasons, the circle of life. And you invent repeatable work. And the structure of the work becomes as cyclical as life itself. You invent a circle in music, invent musical rituals. And once music migrates from the farm to the town, certain changes happen. Instruments can become heavy because you start to set quite permanent roots into the town. You create heavy instruments like bells and gongs, but also very delicate ones like harps and lutes which would be damaged over a journey.

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Days getting shorter, Earth spinning faster these days

6 August 2022

Scientists are perplexed by a slight increase in the speed of the Earth’s rotation in recent years. It’s all the more puzzling because as time has passed, Earth’s spin has been ever so gradually slowing down. This has required leap seconds to be added to clocks from time to time, which are separate to the leap day that needs to be added to the calendar every four years.

Since the first leap second was added in 1972, scientists have added leap seconds every few years. They’re added irregularly because Earth’s rotation is erratic, with intermittent periods of speeding up and slowing down that interrupt the planet’s millions-of-years-long gradual slowdown.

“The rotation rate of Earth is a complicated business. It has to do with exchange of angular momentum between Earth and the atmosphere and the effects of the ocean and the effect of the moon,” Levine says. “You’re not able to predict what’s going to happen very far in the future.”

But in the past decade or so, Earth’s rotational slowdown has … well, slowed down. There hasn’t been a leap second added since 2016, and our planet is currently spinning faster than it has in half a century. Scientists aren’t sure why.

While the speed increase is barely noticeable, the shortest day since the advent of atomic clocks was recorded on Wednesday 29 June 2022, when the day was 1.59 milliseconds shorter than the usual twenty-four hours.

A millisecond or so is small fry though. In the distant past, Earth’s years were made up of four-hundred-and-twenty days, considerably more that the three-hundred-and-sixty-five we’re accustomed to. But it could be worse. If say the Earth spun twice as fast as it presently does, life would be quite different.

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Jeremy Eden wins Archibald Prize people’s choice award

4 August 2022

Sydney based Australian artist Jeremy Eden has won the 2022 Archibald Prize people’s choice award, with his portrait of Australian actor Samuel Johnson.

If you’re going to be in or near Sydney in August, you still have a chance to see the Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman Prizes exhibition, before it closes on Sunday 28 August 2022.

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Super clear photos of Jupiter taken by the Juno probe

3 August 2022
Image of Jupiter, via NASA JunoCam

Image courtesy of NASA/Juno spacecraft.

A selection of some of the clearest photos taken so far, of Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. This stunning image dates from 2019. Juno has been photographing the gas giant since 2016, on a mission originally expected to last five years. NASA is hopeful however the probe will remain operational until 2025.

More of Juno’s photos can be seen here.

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Who are the famous people who make your town notable

3 August 2022

Finnish map designer and geographer Topi Tjukanov has created Notable people, a global map showing the birth places of well-known and famous people. Use your mouse to drag the globe to the desired location, and the scroll wheel to zoom in and out.

Using data from Morgane Laouenan et al., the map is showing birthplaces of the most “notable people” around the world. Data has been processed to show only one person for each unique geographic location with the highest notability rank.

The nearest listed notable person born close to my present location is Australian film and TV actor Steve Bisley, who starred in the original Mad Max movie in 1979.

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Somerton Man identified as Carl ‘Charles’ Webb

3 August 2022

Derek Abbott, a professor at the University of Adelaide, claimed last week to have identified the so-called Somerton Man, perhaps bringing a close to one of the most intriguing, and lingering, Australian mysteries of the twentieth century.

In December 1948, the body of a man thought to be about forty, was found at Somerton beach in Adelaide, capital of South Australia. His body showed no sign of trauma. He was not carrying any identification, nor were there missing person reports for anyone matching his description.

In the months following his death, a suitcase containing some possessions, was located, but offered no clues as to who he was. A scrap of paper, bearing the words tamam shud, was found concealed in clothing the man owned. The fragment was later found to have been torn from a page of a book of poems titled Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám, originally written in the twelfth century.

It was all enough to send the rumour mill into overdrive. People variously believed Somerton Man to be a spy, a displaced war veteran who’d made his way to Australia, or a jilted lover who’d presumably somehow taken his own life at the beach one night.

South Australian police exhumed Somerton Man’s body in May 2021, to further their investigation, but Abbott had been making progress separately. Working with Colleen Fitzpatrick, an American genealogist, he concluded the man to be Carl “Charles” Webb, an electrical engineer from Melbourne.

While mystery still surrounds the circumstances of his death, Abbott believes Webb may have travelled to Adelaide to see his ex-wife, who moved there after the pair separated several years prior.

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Trailer for Blaze a film by Del Kathryn Barton

2 August 2022

Sydney based Australian artist Del Kathryn Barton has turned her hand to filmmaking. Her debut feature Blaze, trailer, which premiered at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, tells the story of a girl, Blaze (Julia Savage), who retreats into an imaginary realm after witnessing an act of violence.

Although she has made a couple of short films previously, Barton is probably best known for winning the Archibald Prize for portraiture in 2008, with her painting You are what is most beautiful about me, a self portrait with Kell and Arella.

Looking at the trailer though, I couldn’t help but thinking Blaze — which opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday 25 August 2022 — is like one of Barton’s artworks come to life.

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Belated birthday greetings to George Jetson born 31 July 2022

1 August 2022

I’ve seen a few episodes of The Jetsons, a futuristic carton show that first aired in the 1960s, but had forgotten, or maybe not even known, the setting was 2062. The twenty-fifth century somehow felt more like it. After all, a flying car that compacts down to the size of a briefcase when not in use? Come on, we’ll need a few hundred years to make that a reality.

But according to intenet pundits, George Jetson, husband to Jane, and father of Judy and Elroy, was born in 2022. Some have suggested 31 July as his actual birthday, though series creators have yet to confirm or deny that is the case.

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